November 28, 2016 By Patrick Jaiah Kamara
Activists campaigning against Gender-Based Violence (GBV) in Sierra Leone have called on the government and other donor partners to increase funding to address GBV issues across the country.
Speaking last Friday (25 November) at the official opening of the 16 days of activism campaign at the conference hall of the Ministry of Social Welfare, Gender and Children’s Affairs (MSWGCA), Senior Gender Advisor at the Irish GBV Consortium, Nafisatu Jalloh, said violence against women and girls was pervasive in Sierra Leone with 45.5% of them experiencing physical violence.
“The Consortium calls on the government, private sector, the UN and bilateral donors to increase funding, specifically to the ministries of Health, Education and Social Welfare to address the issue of GBV in the country,” she urged.
Madam Jalloh said the campaign against GBV was an international awareness raising campaign on the theme ‘Orange the World: Raise funds to end violence against women and girls.’
She said the Consortium comprises 14 organisations, including Christian Aid, World Vision, Child Fund, Plan International and the Irish Embassy among other child protection organisations to promote the adoption of a coherent and coordinated response to GBV.
“Women and girls in this country have limited access to appropriate health services and support for women and girls’ survivors of violence is often inaccessible, unaffordable, unfriendly, and under-resourced,” she said.
Earlier, Chairman for the occasion, Charles Vandi, who doubles as the Director of Gender Affairs at MSWGCA, said the campaign against GBV started in 1991 after the United Nations declared November 25 for its celebration.
He said the 16 days of activism, which started last Friday, would run till December 10 and that during that period, they would engage key stakeholders to map out strategies and highlight policies that would help reduce or eradicate GBV.
He said GBV issues were sensitive as women and children who form about 60% of the country’s population are mostly affected.
Deputy Minister of MSWGCA, Rugiatu Neneh Turay, said the ministry was committed to fighting against GBV in the country and that their partners have been very supportive in the campaign against GBV.
She noted that the theme for this year’s celebration was timely as wearing orange was a commitment that they would no longer condone violence against women and children.
She said for the past years, the country has been joining others to raise awareness about GBV, as a human rights issue at all levels and strengthened local and international initiatives around violence against women.
Madam Turay said government has drafted the Gender Equality and Women’s empowerment Policy Bill, which if passed into law, would provide the legislative authority to fast-track the empowerment of women.
She emphasized that the need for money was significant to end GBV, as world leaders, who adopted the Sustainable Development Goal in 2015, recognised that money was a prerequisite in ending violence against women and children.
She said the resources dedicated to addressing the issue did not match the scale of the challenge, noting that allocating adequate resources to prevent and address violence against women was not only a legal obligation but ‘a moral imperative’.
The occasion was climaxed by a candle light in solidarity of those that have suffered GBV.